President George W. Bush and his administration aren't doing any favors for Texas' welfare reform and child care policies. House Resolution 4700, created by House Republicans and backed by Bush, sets out to undermine the state's current child care programs.
In Texas, HR 4700 would increase child care funds by $10 million each year. But provisions contained within the bill may actually weaken welfare reform and child care, according to Jason Sabo, policy analyst for the Center for Public Policy Priorities (CPPP) in Austin.
Sabo's concern stems from the bill's intention to sharply increase work requirements for Texas' welfare recipients — specifically those enrolled in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Choices project. Many low-income families depend upon Choices, which guarantees its clients child care subsidies as long as they fulfill TANF work requirements.
HR 4700 would require Choices clients to increase their work participation and hours, but without new, commensurate TANF funding and with only a modest increase in child care money.
Without funding, the only way Texas can meet these new child care demands for TANF recipients is by reducing child care assistance to them.
Sabo maintains that if the bill is given the greenlight, Texas will force these working poor families into public assistance and consequently kick 30,900 children out of child care five years from now.
HR 4700 gives Texas only a $10 million increase, which barely dents the $100 million the state needs to keep child care subsidies at their current levels. Ultimately, Texas will have to raise more than $100 million per year by 2007 to meet the state's child care needs.
To call Texas representatives about this resolution, see "Yak At Your Rep," page 9. — Albert A. Lopez